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The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
#2888079 09/08/19 05:24 AM
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I've recently enjoyed reading a kind of piano tuning autobiography by Terence Lowe. It's not an autobiography of his full life, but more connected with his career as a piano technician, during which he worked as an employee with all the big piano retailers in London, and regularly tuned for many many prominent musicians from all genres of music.

He paints a very vivid picture of a Britain that has gone, both piano-wise and job-wise. Leaving school in the mid 1960s, he started with a piano repair workshop (of which there are precious few in the UK now, and probably none taking on trainees). His career followed the declining arc of piano production, repair and retailing in the UK, and the variations in his fortunes make interesting reading.

I don't have any connection with the author, and am just mentioning this out of interest.
The MAdness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner

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Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
David Boyce #2888112 09/08/19 08:25 AM
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Thanks for posting.

Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
David Boyce #2888133 09/08/19 09:45 AM
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It's an interesting read. It doesn't go into extensive technical detail about piano technical matters, as it's aimed at a general readership. But it gives a clear picture of what the UK and the piano trade was like from the mid 1960s, and how it changed. Also 'personal glimpses' of many musicians. It's heartening to see how normal and civil most of them were to the author. The world is very different now from when the writer started his piano career, having left high school shortly before his 15th birthday.

Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
David Boyce #2888170 09/08/19 11:22 AM
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Thanks David; I've just ordered my copy after reading a couple of pages on the "See Inside" feature on Amazon. Looking forward to reading it when I get some spare time, which will probably be about Christmas...! laugh


Started work at the Bl├╝thner piano re-building workshop in Perivale, UK, in 1989. Self employed since 2000. Learning something new about pianos every day... smile

http://www.hamiltonpianos.com/
Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
David Boyce #2888237 09/08/19 01:55 PM
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My summer reading binge has gone by with "Kochland" by Christopher Leonard, but this one sounds like an interesting read. I'll have to pick it up.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
David Boyce #2888244 09/08/19 02:07 PM
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Curious if there is a shift in the UK from piano to some other instrument?
Here it may be happening too as I hear more bone on hollow log with story telling.


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Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
David Boyce #2888261 09/08/19 02:31 PM
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The last piano factory in Britain closed in October 2009. That was the Kemble factory, owned for years before by Yamaha.

Now there is only some small-scale artisan piano making, but no piano factory, in the UK.

A century before, there were around a hundred piano factories of various sizes in and around London. Terence Lowe started his career in 1965 as a boy of 15, when there were still several piano factories, and many piano restoration workshops and piano retailers. Notably, one older journeyman in his first job kept telling him to get out of piano work, it would never pay! In a sense, the experience of piano manufacturing mirrors the manufacturing industries in general in Britain in the 20th and 21st centuries. Cheap labour costs have seen manufacturing moving away from the developed, to the developing world.

Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
David Boyce #2888496 09/09/19 05:28 AM
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Thank you David for the hint !


Ulrich Guillerm
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Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
David Boyce #2888523 09/09/19 07:29 AM
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Thanks for posting about the book David.
I tried the sample on my kindle and it is good. So I've ordered it.
Nick


Nick, ageing piano technician
Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
David Boyce #2888590 09/09/19 12:42 PM
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Hope you enjoy it Nick. It gives an interesting picture of the period.

Ulrich, I see you too have a Fujan lever. They are becoming ubiquitous! (and you use a Papps wedge, as I do, too)

Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
David Boyce #2888801 09/10/19 04:02 AM
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Originally Posted by David Boyce

Ulrich, I see you too have a Fujan lever. They are becoming ubiquitous! (and you use a Papps wedge, as I do, too)


wink

(Papps' wedges are very fast to use, and mind-saver on birdcage pianos)


Ulrich Guillerm
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Re: The Madness: Memoir of a Piano Tuner
ulrichg #2888809 09/10/19 05:00 AM
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[/quote]

wink

(Papps' wedges are very fast to use, and mind-saver on birdcage pianos)
[/quote]

Vraiment! There are so many birdcage pianos still around, in my part of the world (West of Scotland).

I almost always refuse to attempt to tune Spring & Loop action birdcage pianos nowadays. They are so old and there is so little cast iron in them, that even if the tuning pins feel tight, the whole piano is inherently unstable. By the time you do two octaves, the middle has gone well out again. They seem to have been an English "thing", around the 1880s. Some 1880s pianos are still wonderful, but not Spring & Loop action Birdcage pianos!

Birdcage pianos

Last edited by David Boyce; 09/10/19 05:03 AM.

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